Ford Winds Down Argo AI as Driverless Tech ‘Long Way Off’

Early autonomous driving technology prospects took another huge hit this week with news that Argo AI is to be wound down.

The company that burst on to the scene in 2017 with $1Bn investor backing and then became part owned by Ford and Volkswagen is now being shuttered following crippling financial losses for the two automakers. Reuters reports that Ford published a third-quarter net loss blamed on the loss-making self-driving start-up.

Ford posted a net loss in the quarter of $827M, after taking a $2.7Bn noncash pretax impairment on its investment in Argo AI. The automaker said Argo will be “wound down” and that “talented engineers” will be offered positions with Ford.

Volkswagen said it also expects to hire some key personnel from the defunct company. In a statement, Argo said it “will not continue on its mission as a company” a decision that was made “in coordination with our shareholders”. It said some employees will be let go.

Ford and Volkswagen each hold around 39% of Argo, with ride-hail company Lyft owning about 2% and the rest held by Argo’s founders and employees.

Ford CEO Jim Farley said it will shift its development focus away from fully self-driving systems developed by Argo to ADAS created internally at Ford. He said in a statement: “Profitable, fully autonomous vehicles at scale are a long way off and we won’t necessarily have to create that technology ourselves.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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